Officials Want a Curbside Compost Pickup Program in Boston
City Councilors will discuss a proposal to introduce a city-run effort to haul away food scraps.
Recognizing the environmental benefits of recycling excess food and scraps to be used as fertilizer, Boston officials are eyeing a curbside compost pick-up program so the decaying matter can help landscape city parks, or be sold off to local farmers.
â€śCompost is rich in nutrients, improves the water-holding capacity of soil and encourages good root structure while reducing or eliminating the need for chemicalÂ pesticides, making it a great material for use in gardens, landscaping and agriculture,â€ť according to a petition filed by City Councilors Matt Oâ€™Malley and Felix Arroyo.
Going beyond the cityâ€™s recycling efforts, the pair of officials wants to implement a pilot program that would collect compost at peoplesâ€™ curbsides so it could benefit the local agriculture.Â According to Arroyo and Oâ€™Malley, city-run curbside composting programs have existed in over 90 cities in the country, some for decades, including Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and San Francisco.
“We did some more research into itâ€¦when you see a city like San Francisco, they reduced their trash by 78 percent,” says Arroyo, adding the idea to bring a program to Boston stemmed from a community meeting with Jamaica Plain residents. “In Portland, they got so good at this that they do trash pickup every two weeks, instead of every week, because there isnâ€™t too much trash anymore.Â We see some potential here as to whatâ€™s possible in a large city. Anytime we reduce whatâ€™s going into our landfills we have done something very good, and thatâ€™s what this is about.”
In 2012, across the Charles River, Cambridge officials kicked-off their own feasibility study with plans to roll-out a compost collection program with curbside pickup at more than 800 participating households.Â As the idea develops in Cambridge, the city is also looking at 10 sites where they could dump the food waste for composting purposes, something Oâ€™Malley and Arroyo would like to mirror. â€śThe finished compost can be used for landscaping in Bostonâ€™s parks and gardens or could be sold to local farmers, creating a full circle of food returning to food for Boston,â€ť according to a request for a public hearing about the prospect filed by the city councilors on March 20.
The full City Council will hear remarks from the duo during a scheduled meeting on Wednesday, March 27, before sending the request to the appropriate committee for a public hearing and review.
Boston already has a program that collects compost from businesses and households, but it isnâ€™t run or funded by the city.Â Jamaica Plain-based start-up Bootstrap Compost takes trips around Boston by bike, picking up food waste from constituents and contracted business owners. To date, the company has 400 residential customers and 21 commercial customers, and has diverted more than 170,000 pounds of food scraps for composting in the past two years.Â Oâ€™Malley and Arroyo plan on inviting Bootstrap Compost representatives, as well as members of Bostonâ€™s Department of Public Works, to the tentative public hearing to discuss the benefits of a city-wide curbside pick-up program.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/03/26/boston-officials-want-a-curbside-compost-pick-up-program/